Family Tree

Our family continues to grow, and this year the Non-Scotsman and I decided to capture my side of the family in our version of a family tree.

Huge thanks to the talented duo, Mikal & Julie, at Swash for printing these for us with such finesse.


It's a Small World, After All

Here's the storyline:

Storyline 1:
Because of getting snowed in during the Winter of '06, I got a job at Canlis Restaurant.

Because Canlis encourages growth, I thought of starting a business.

Because of my cheeky/failed attempt at said adventure, The Non-Scotsman decided to start one instead.

Storyline 2:
Because my Canlis employer studied at Cornell, he met Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park.

Because I worked at Canlis, my sister sang at their birthday party, where she met her now-boyfriend, Will Guidara.

Because Will (and the EMP chef) wrote a cookbook, a celebratory dinner was hosted at Canlis Restaurant.

Because the dinner was hosted, The Non-Scotsman made this film:


Warmth in Winter

Cheers to fresh winter love
and free light filters (compliments of "Seattle cloudy skies").

I was honored to be a part of this little "save the date" video shoot with The Non-Scotsman the day before Thanksgiving. Many thanks to the friends at Oddfellows who let us clamber and climb all over their space to capture this gorgeous couple!

Watch it here: VIDEO



I must begin with ***

*** I struggled with whether to add the following addition to my "Curate Seattle" list. I have a very slight interest ("crush" is too strong) on this brand new place. Not head-over-heels. It's like the movie "One Fine Day:" not great acting, at times annoying, and not even that unique of a storyline, but for some reason I still really like it. It ends and I either want to go hug someone or watch it again.
Like the following recommendation, it certainly isn't winning any Oscars any time soon, but it will leave you in a great mood.

Canon: whiskey & bitters emporium and I share an archeological urge to dig into classic cocktail culture. We are clearly not alone, as this trend has swept the country and Seattle over the last few years.
(Here at home, think Spur, Tavern Law/Needle & Thread, Bathtub Gin, Zig Zag, Knee High Stocking).

This newest joint has a few features that are worth experiencing.

Taking over Licorous's old spot on 12th Avenue, Canon put some pre-prohibition memorabilia up on the walls and filled the shelves with old and new liquors to tempt every inkling. Things that made this place intriguing and creative:

1. The Vermouth Experiment: For $12 I got to try three rye manhattans, one with Dolin,

one with Chinato, and one with Punt e Mes.

In the bottom of each glass were these deep red, dense marinated cherries (imported from France for $200 a jar, according to the waitress), which I wouldn't share with anyone for even $5. Seriously, I asked the waitress to bring extra so others could try because I wouldn't part with mine.

2. The Hanky Panky (gin, sweet vermouth, and fernet) was served in an adorable personal-sized medicinal glass bottle wrapped in a handmade logo.

3. Cocktail books from the 20's and 30's were stacked on the bar, tempting me to keep ordering and learning.

Although I daydreamed of little tweaks to service and decor, I sincerely appreciated their passion - the details to the beverages and cocktail experience - that are necessary to continue grow my knowledge and appreciation for all the little details that make a great drink a truly great drink.

How wonderful that cocktailing is a skill worth learning - something you can enjoy in your 2o's and on into your 80's.


Seattle Looks Like Graham Baba

I'm going to kill about 18 birds in one stone with this one.

I could spend time curating dozens of the most current, hip, hospitality joints near my house - or we could simply talk about Graham Baba Architects.*** These are the craftsmen/women who make them the artistic, gritty, and chic places they are. Their aesthetic taste is responsible for entirely too many of my choices - where to spend my money, my time, and my hunger.

I've written about many of these spots in the past, and it's high time to say "thank you" to the architects for giving me somewhere creative, intriguing, and excellent to sit.

Thank you for the Kolstrand Building. And all the oysters, bikes, and cocktails within. (Walrus & the Carpenter, Staple & Fancy)

Thank you for the Melrose Market (in conjunction with Dunn + Hobbes).

Thank you for Rain Shadow Meats.

Thank you for Marigold & Mint.

Thank you for the Piston & Ring Building (La Spiga, Plum Bistro)

Thank you for iron railings, gritty gears, and sanded wooden beams.

Thank you for reusing railway ties.

Thank you for making "wood-firing" at Eltana Bagels possible, and for Skillet Diner. Thank you for the Terry Ave Building (now Cuoco and Brave Horse Tavern). Thank you for Revel & Quoin.

***Frank Bruni of The New York Times describes their work eloquently: "a palpable conviviality that so many restaurants aim for but so few achieve. That kind of warmth and vibrancy often boil down to luck: to the animation of the crowd that gathers, the pitch of people's voices."


Curating A Song by the River

I'll be honest, I'm not drawn to the name of this spirited little shop in Madison Valley.
What I am drawn to is the organic and industrious sense of design and display this jewelry design gallery exhibits.

The owner, after spending much time on the farm, inspired by horticulture and plant taxonomy (who isn't inspired by botanical taxonomy...?) she recreates organic life in gems and jewels.

1. Excellent use of 19th century bonatical sketches in the shop
2. Charming jewelry displays of natural designs

(A display on linen backboard)
3. Intriguing stories behind much of her work. I was interested in this beautiful wall art - simply sewn black thread outlines of two deer on white linen - and she told me a grand story of the mother and daughter team who live out in the woods and sew these modern masterpieces. Great stories!

Right now, due to obnoxious road construction in front of her shop, she is putting lots online and then will celebrate the finished road with a big sale! Details on Seattle Met Magazine.


Curating A Cocktail

I admit my lack of linguistic savvy (or is it svelteness?).
After yesterday's post, I had to look up what the word "curate" really means. I discovered that by saying I'm "curating my city" I could either mean I'm intending to enter the priesthood or become the legal guardian of a lunatic. Feel free to look for yourself.

What I wanted to say was that I am assembling a collection, little pieces of art: I'm stockpiling goodness and delight.

Anyway: Day 2, No. 2.
I think their ugly website is to try and keep the place from being swarmed with tourists - that's my theory. Or perhaps it's their way of showing off how long they've been around. All I know is who wants to be online anyway when they could be enjoying cocktails at this sparkling gem?

To my curative categories: Excellent, Charming, Intriguing.

1. Excellent: Here you've stepped into some rare, kind, French woman's living room - so intimate yet posh that you want to bring a house-warming gift but are sure she has everything. I always feel like, for some lucky reason, Sambar invited me over for cocktails and enjoyment. Cocktails crafted drop-by-delicate-drop, served with little bites that require a description and result in exclamations of "plus s'il vous plaƮt!" come with warmth and a genuine interest in finding my, and your, perfect drink.

2. Charming: 4 bar stools. 6 tables. There is nowhere to go but intimate. You can cozy up at a tiny little table inside, perhaps even listening to live music, or step out into the even plus petite courtyard with flowering plants and quaint iron chairs.

3. Intriguing: The bar is nestled into the side of Le Gourmand, the restaurant/mother hen who shares her kitchen with the bar. Although the restaurant can feel a bit classic to the point of being outdated - the bar surprises you with wild red and purple colors splashed all over the walls and into your glass. Quite sprightly.

Sambar's bartenders, specifically the famous Jay Kuehner, must steal from mom's (Le Gourmand) larder like mad in order to create such inventive beverages. I can imagine him sneaking around finding ingredients to concoct things like: Ancho Chile Syrup, Black-Pepper infused Tequila, Lavender and Dardamom Bitters. Crazy frolickings like this have free, yet choreographed, room to dance on the menu.

Only good can come from a place that infuses spirits with roses!

If anyone, anywhere, ever wants to throw me a cocktail party - I beg you, throw it here.


An Attempt to Curate My City

I am tempted. I am tempted to take this little blog outside Seattle. I absolutely love to travel, and these past months led me to Israel, Turkey, Greece, Whistler, and a North Carolina sailing village – complete with crab boils and cast-net fishing. Do I go there, here?

I desperately wanted to put up some photos from those trips, but realize that the scope of this blog is meant to focus me: “Seattle and her Surroundings.” And this narrow focus helps me to see and think creatively here at home – to look for the excellent, the charming, the intriguing. It gives me space and boundary.

So I made a decision: it is time to stay home and curate. I'm going to start recording a mixed-tape – a compilation – of some of my favorite Seattle places. Over the next two weeks I am going to take one spot every day and explain why I find it:

1. Excellent (possessing outstanding qualities that are impressive)

2. Charming (have some sort of magical quality or power that makes me want more)

3. Intriguing (accomplish something new and wonderful - or old and wonderful)

I am going to begin with a boutique I visited this weekend in Fremont: Les Amis , owned by tasteful guardian, Becky Buford.

(photo compliments of Les Amis)

1. Excellent: Understated good taste. Taste you can live in. French taste. The brands they carry says it all: Graham & Spencer, Pas de Calais, Gary Graham, Souchi, Giada Forte, Vince, Lem Lem... The list can go on. All I know is that I find rack after rack of textiles I want to live in, jewelry I would be honored to don, and kind service that feels luxurious.

2. Charming: It feels like you've stepped into a French countryside market full of things you want to cuddle and feel and wrap around your body. Cashmere and hammered metals. James Perse simplicity and local Seattle oddities.

(photo compliments of Coco + Kelley)

3. Intriguing: Les Amis has a growing family. One of the best stories of this place is simply how it keeps creatively growing. Les Amis came first, and then Essenza opened up to show off the best French soaps, botanical scents, and delicate jewelry in town. (Essenza deserves a post of it's own). Recently, Les Amis partnered with Lambs Ear and adopted yet another spot next to Essenza - dedicated to shoes - called Thistle. They carry coveted gems like A Detacher, Rachel Comey and Zeha Berlin. I love that the owner is not content to simply display all jewels, triple-milled French soaps, and handmade leather shoes next to her clothing in Les Amis - she dreams of space! It is as if she loves these other products enough to give them their own room to move and grow and show-off. I hope Becky Buford keeps going until every other store in Fremont is under her care.


Out of my Goldfish Bowl

I felt a bit like this fish yesterday.

I could smell the salty sea, hear the orcas yell,
imagine the feel of the slimy sea kelp.

But I was caught in a small plastic bag of
details and duty on the beach.

How do I keep the space passion and purpose require?
How to jump out into the big open wild?

I imagine it looks a bit like this:

And reads a bit like this beautiful piece from a Frenchman:

"If you want to build a ship,
don't drum up people together to collect wood
and don't assign them
tasks & work,

but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery


The Seattle Popsicle Truck

Tell me one of your favorite sounds as a kid was the popsicle man.

That tinny music coming round the corner, getting louder and louder, giving you, me, and our friends just enough time to run inside for quarters from mom or grandpa. The popsicle truck would come into view and we would huff and run to be the first in line for the red-white-and-blue rockets, or maybe a fudgesicle.

Sitting outside on Capitol Hill the other day I had a genius idea...I think you'll agree it's brilliant.

An adult popsicle truck.

That plays really great summer music - like The Roots or Musiq Soulchild, or pretty much any R&B from the early 90's - and drives around Capitol Hill giving out real, organic, fruit juice popsicles to the hipsters in their cut-off-denim shorts. Maybe the Popsicle Driver even doubles as a DJ and customers can request songs.

Maybe you can get on the popsicle truck social media page and request a specific song when the truck is coming around your corner!

I imagine the truck being about this big:
But having B&W speakers and much better branding:

I'm imagining the list of flavors printed on the side of the truck now, co-created with Seattle chefs of course:

Peach, Tomato & Basil
Grapefruit, Cucumber, & Cilantro
Lemon & Black Pepper
Pineapple, Lime & Ginger
Mango, Meyer Lemon & Thyme
Blueberry & Terragon

Something co-conspired with Fran's Chocolates of course.
Blackberries from San Juan Island.

You get it.

Would you want this truck to come down your street? Let me know what you think.


It's a good man who will take me kayaking through the Arboretum (get me good and parched) and an even better man who then squeezes up a batch of fresh limeade.

(I am head over heels for this little salt dish, the same size as my limes, summer 2011)

I was so thirsty, I didn't take the time to get a photo of the concoction before it was guzzled and gone. Guess you'll have to ask The Non-Scotsman to make you some if you want to see the completed product.


Choose Your Own Adventure

You know you live somewhere wonderful when...

...on your walk home from work, you happen to hear live music coming from up the street. You're not in a hurry so you walk over to hear what's going on. It's kindof like living in one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books from 3rd grade. You decide to walk past the band and into a crowd, where you pass some angel handing you free oysters on the half-shell. Do you choose the Tobasco or the lemon? For lemon turn to page 13. (The angel was actually a man dressed in a freaky full-body oyster outfit - not sure where he got that one).

And then the man-dressed-as-an-oyster ushers you inside his shop and hands you a delicious fried oyster, and a boat of geoduck ceviche, which you actually decline in favor of the curried mussels. If you choose to decline the geoduck turn to page 78.

All I can say is, welcome to the neighborhood, Taylor Shellfish!

I decide to turn the page to go home, and upon arriving am charmed by bowls of fresh summer cherries.

Literally, cherries to top off free oysters. Oysters from my bay, and cherries from my terroir.
And this was all just on my walk home from work...the chapter 1 of my night.